Skip the long lines and parking crunch at area malls the day after Thanksgiving by visiting the Appalachian Center for Crafts instead where you'll find gifts handcrafted by well-known artists, fine food and music during the center's Holiday Festival.
The annual event, set for Friday-Sunday, Nov. 23-25, has become a favorite holiday fixture for its galleries brimming with art, seasonal offerings at Mama Lea's Café, traditional Christmas tree dripping with handmade ornaments, daily craft demonstrations and holiday music.
Admission is free, and everyone is invited.
This year, the galleries feature exhibits of work by members of the CAST (Craft Artists of Southern Tennessee) chapter of the Tennessee Association of Craft Artists. Invited guests will join 15 CAST members, including Jeanie Stephenson, who will display bronze sculpture; Christie Teasley, textile constructions; and a number of potters including Melissa Tobler, Amy Pratt and Linda Hacket. Also featured is the fine gold and silver jewelry of Howard Thompson of Tullahoma, as well as the work of hundreds of regional artists in the Craft Center's sales gallery.
Pianist Clarence Young, owner of the Greenbrook Inn Bed and Breakfast of Smithville, will be playing seasonal music daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lobby area, where you'll also find the traditional Christmas tree, decorated this year with the fused-glass ornaments of Karen Reed of Earthstar Glass, a Huntsville, Ala., studio.
Just off the lobby, you'll find Mama Lea's Café, where the special holiday menu includes all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar ($6.50), beef brisket with horseradish sauce on a kaiser roll ($5.50) and seared tuna marinated in a soy ginger sauce ($6.75). Coffee and bakery items will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's a good idea to make lunch reservations; call 615-597-8812.
And a trip to the Craft Center is rarely complete without a tour of the studios. During the Holiday Festival, there will be daily craft demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: woodturning by Cookeville artist John Lucas on Friday, glass blowing by Craft Center faculty member Curtiss Brock on Saturday; and glass bead making by Nashville artist Louis Cage on Sunday.
For more information, call the Craft Center at 931-372-3051 or 615-597-6801.